I grew up with sauerkraut on the table. Not every day, or even every week. But it was a part of our family meals. Usually, there were sauteéd onions, maybe mushrooms, mixed in. Or it was the filling in pierogi, or served cold on hot dogs. But it was always a side dish, something meant to play with the main flavor of the meal.
This recipe is something that I got from a recipe card at my local Penzey’s Spices. I’m embarassed to say that I never considered using sauerkraut like this, even though it’s such a simple thing. Almost not a real recipe, as much as an idea for throwing things together. I’ve made it with pork tenderloin, cut into chunks, as well as with boneless pork country ribs, and both times it’s been out of this world.
If you have it, go ahead and use home-fermented sauerkraut. Yeah, I know that’s a bit of an oddity, unless you homestead or follow some food trends. But it’s actually really easy to make, especially if you have an airlock system that keeps the oxygen out of your fermentation vessel, like Pickle Pipes. (Disclaimer: I’m not selling these. I got a set for Christmas from my sister, along with the Pickle Pebbles weights, and they’re easy to use and low-maintenance.)
The last time I made this, I was out of whole fennel seed, so I just tossed in 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel instead.
Accompaniment suggestions: prepared horseradish for the meat; beets or carrots as side veg; crunchy roasted potatoes are a nice texture contrast
Pork and Sauerkraut
- 1 quart sauerkraut, undrained
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- Pork Chop Seasoning or Bavarian Seasoning
- 6 pork chops OR 2 pork tenderloins, cut into 2″ thick slices OR 6-8 boneless pork country ribs
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Do not drain the sauerkraut. Place the kraut, chopped apple, chopped onion, fennel seed and caraway seed in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Season pork with Pork Chop Seasoning or Bavarian Seasoning. I like the Bavarian because it’s a salt-free blend (and sauerkraut has a bunch of salt already), plus the mustard seed in it plays really well with the tang of the kraut. Brown both sides of the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. If necessary, do this in 2 batches so the meat isn’t crowded in the pan.
- In a 4-6 quart slow cooker crock or a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, place about 1/3 of the sauerkraut mixture. Top with the browned pork and then the rest of the kraut. If you can’t fit all the pork in a single layer, then use half in one layer, then 1/3 of the kraut (half of what’s left), another layer with the rest of the pork, and the end of the kraut on top. Add a bay leaf or two. (I always use two so that I know how many to fish out when it’s done.) Cover.
- If using a slow cooker, set to high for 3-4 hours (longer if you like to use low or you need to set it in the morning and let it go all day). If using a Dutch oven, place over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, then turn the heat to low and let it be for 1-2 hours.
- Serve 1/2 cup kraut with 1 chop/hunk of tenderloin/country rib.
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